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Dog offers emotional support to College of Idaho football program

Nala with Coach La Deaux
Nala 4
Posted at 2:48 PM, Oct 28, 2022

CALDWELL, Idaho (KIVI) — Nala is a big part of the College of Idaho football program.

The two-year-old pup belongs to wide receiver coach Leon La Deaux. He got Nala around the same time he was hired for the job.

“I know people say this," La Deaux said, "but she is like my friend, more than anything else. She’s always there, she’s comforting, she’s loving, she’s a goofball.”

As a student-athlete wellness supporter, Nala hangs out with athletes from all programs at the school, helping to provide fun, support, or just a friend.

Originally, La Deaux got Nala in hopes that she would become a service dog, but after she grew into her personality, it was clear she wasn't fit for that role. La Deaux says because of her friendly nature, Nala was never able to pass the service dog test.

That doesn't bother La Deaux— as Nala transitioned from service to emotional support.

While Nala is around the guys all the time, she still enjoys her girl time. That is why she gets along so well with athletic trainer Clarissa Alexander.

She works with athletes who have been injured and recognizes the importance of Nala's role.

“That’s a large part of what our job has become is emotional support," Alexander said. "And having her here just cheers everybody up.”

Nala has definitely left her mark on the program, and La Deaux wouldn't have it any other way.

“I almost now can’t imagine why you would have an athletic program or sports team and you wouldn’t have a dog, [why] you wouldn’t want to have a Nala or something.”  La Deaux said.

This story was originally reported by Brendyn Jones on